Blockchain and Its Role in Intellectual Property – Commentary
Blockchain and intellectual property
“Blockchain” is a system or database in which authors can present tests through a digital publication, generating a rapid systematization of the documents presented. The blockchain is characterized by two elements, namely:
- immutability; and
Both of these features keep database users safe, giving them the assurance that their information will not be hacked.
Blockchain and intellectual property
When blockchain merges with IP, the result is databases that aim to protect authorship in a safe and simple way, while also seeking to offer their users different ways to share IP-related information. For example, they will have the option to upload confidential documents. One of these databases, IPCHAIN, is characterized by its proximity to intellectual property offices and has collaborated with associations such as:
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Green (a WIPO association that promotes innovation and the diffusion of technology);
- the Dennemeyer Group (the world’s largest intellectual property law firm); and
- the Marie Curie Alumni Association (which represents the interests of more than 10,000 European researchers).
It is the security offered by such platforms that makes them attractive in the context of intellectual property, in particular for delicate operations such as transfers or contractual agreements. An example of this would be a license agreement; in practice, it may be difficult to detect violations of such agreements. However, the existence of a blockchain system will allow that, if a contract is registered and a violation of the stipulated conditions is detected, the contract will be automatically eliminated.
Blockchain systems can also play an important role when it comes to the demonstration of creation in the case of copyright. This demonstration is what prevents creations from being copied by third parties. Users can download different types of works (for example, musical, visual or audiovisual works) to such systems and store them through the blockchain. This generates an IP record, which allows the creator to demonstrate the date the work was created.
Another way in which blockchain can be useful in copyright protection is in calculating the earnings that a composer can obtain from their musical creation. This calculation can be complicated in light of the fact that it would be difficult to keep track of each time a particular song is heard.
An example of such use is illustrated by the Mycelia music database, through which users can pay for and consume different types of music. This database was created by singer Imogen Heap, who revealed her motivation for creating it in an interview:
One of the standards should require all services to return information to spores. Specifically, data on where, when and how people interact with our music and who does. This information is gold dust for artists, because if we know how to interpret it, we can get to know our audience better and create opportunities to promote our work more effectively and obtain economic rewards for our work.
According to another standard, we would use “smart contracts” which define the legal agreements related to the creation and use of a work in all kinds of contexts – weddings, advertising campaigns, and so on. Under these contracts, artists could be informed that a transaction had taken place and all those who participated in the creation would receive payment of the corresponding royalties for each use of the work.
Blockchain systems seek to be useful in the patent world as well, and there has been some debate about the role of this system in this regard. it has been proposed(1) that the blockchain could solve problems such as:
- the cost of patents, which leads some owners to choose to market their patents without putting in place any protection;
- differences between patent systems in different countries; and
- “patent trolls”, who acquire patents and seek compensation for damages for their infringement.
The blockchain has a series of advantages that can be beneficial in the field of intellectual property. It provides secure and stable records that are difficult to dispose of, allowing users to store updated copies of information and control operations and information entered into the system. Blockchain systems can also prevent malicious attacks and lead to less expense for those who use them.
For more information on this topic, please contact Evelyn Dueñas Morales to OMC Abogados & Consultores by phone (+51 1 628 1238) or email ([email protected]). The WTO Abogados & Consultores website can be accessed at omcabogados.com.pe.
(1) See, for example, Philip Boucher, Unidad de Previsión Científica, “Como puede cambiar nuestra vida la tecnología de la cadena de blocks”, Servicio de Estudios del Parlamento Europeo.